Child Maintenance: Amendment Removes Discrimination


The Magistrate’s Court of Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2014 which creates equality in the matter of child maintenance was passed in the British Virgin Islands House of Assembly on 25 September 2014.

The bill was presented in the House by Attorney General Dr. Christopher P. Malcolm who  in explaining the objects and reasons announced: “this Act when it would have been passed will remove discrimination which currently exists under the Magistrate’s Code of Procedure Act in terms of how matters relating to maintenance are dealt with. And this is – as indicated – a necessary companion of the Status of Children’s Act which has already been passed.”

The legislation’s ending of the discrimination in maintenance issues was commented on by Territorial At Large Member Honourable Archibald Christian during the debate of the bill. The Legislator said: “We have no perfect Bills in this country, but we have Bills that could impact the lives of people and ensure that justice is dispensed in a fair and equitable manner…This Bill before us today does that. It also removes the elements of discrimination against a man and a woman thus it impacts the well-being of the children.”

Hon. Christian added: “Men should feel very happy today that they could seek justice through the courts to ensure that their children or their child get the support that is necessary,” he said.

Eighth District Representative, Hon. Marlon Penn in his contribution to the debate said that he supported the legislation which removes the discrimination: “Sharing the responsibility in terms of maintenance…is a move I support. Usually when maintenance is made, only men are mentioned. It’s time to remove the stigma that only men should be held accountable to their responsibility,” Hon. Penn announced.

Minister of Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie W. Skelton spoke to the fact that the legislation stipulates that child support must not be less than $25 weekly.